In situ X-ray studies of adlayer-induced crystal nucleation at the liquid-liquid interface

Annika Elsen, Sven Festersen, Benjamin Runge, Christian T. Koops, Benjamin M. Ocko, Moshe Deutsch, Oliver H. Seeck, Bridget M. Murphy, Olaf M. Magnussen

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26 Scopus citations


Crystal nucleation and growth at a liquid-liquid interface is studied on the atomic scale by in situ Å-resolution X-ray scattering methods for the case of liquid Hg and an electrochemical dilute electrolyte containing Pb 2+, F-, and Br- ions. In the regime negative of the Pb amalgamation potential Φrp =-0:70 V, no change is observed from the surface-layered structure of pure Hg. Upon potential-induced release of Pb2+ from the Hg bulk at Φ>Φrp, the formation of an intriguing interface structure is observed, comprising a well-defined 7.6-Å-thick adlayer, decorated with structurally related 3D crystallites. Both are identified by their diffraction peaks as PbFBr, preferentially aligned with their c axis along the interface normal. X-ray reflectivity shows the adlayer to consist of a stack of five ionic layers, forming a single-unit-cell-thick crystalline PbFBr precursor film, which acts as a template for the subsequent quasiepitaxial 3D crystal growth. This growth behavior is assigned to the combined action of electrostatic and short-range chemical interactions.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6663-6668
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number17
StatePublished - 23 Apr 2013


  • Electrochemistry
  • Liquid metal


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